For more than a week, I've been absolutely, stinkingly stuck on my WIP. Several reasons come to mind. Overall busyness of my schedule making me into mental mush. The realization that my WIP is not the historical romance I thought it was, but rather historical fiction, so if it no longer fits the 'romance recipe' then what is the driving force of the book? The bombardment of "grass is greener" syndrome that has me longing to hop the fence and start a completely new and exciting WIP. Yet another rejection of the latest manuscript, albeit nicer than the rejections I've gotten from that particular publishing house in the past. The constant banging and noise as the builders work on the new addition. These elements are not unique to me, nor are they particularly spectacular or interesting...just cumulative.
But yesterday saw a breakthrough. Having written more than 40% of the book and finding it taking a new direction from the original (loose) plan, I knew I needed to sit down and hammer out where this book was going. One of my puzzlements over this book has been "why is it taking so long to write?" I wrote a novel in 10 weeks this summer. Why did that one go so quickly? I'm sure the fact that I did basically NOTHING else for those 10 weeks might have something to do with it, but I believe the major catalyst was the fact that the book was completely plotted out on 3x5 cards. I never sat before a blank screen and wondered what to write about next.
Enter the Post-it 3x5 card. Yesterday, I sat at my dining room table and wrote out card after card with scenes (almost 80 now). I garnered another POV character, fleshed out the timeline, and stuck them all to the back patio doors. (The builders must think I'm insane. They are working on the other side of the glass doors.) My daughter helped me shuffle scenes and number cards and talk out the plot. She also has a way of asking difficult questions like "If the driving force of the book isn't the romance, then what is it?" (I think she has a career as an editor in her future. She can pick out a weakness in my plot quicker'n you can say Jack Robinson. And she's only 14!)
Today I sat down with the cards, and in very little time, added 2500 words to the ms. I knew where I was going and what it should look like when I got there. Amazing!
I love a good analogy (Kaye!) and this got me to thinking. As the builders framed up the shower and closets for the new master bath and bedroom, I saw them consulting the building plans. That framing went up in no time at all. And I realized that's just what I've been doing the past two days. Working on and from a blueprint. Things go fast when I have a blueprint. I have the basic structure down on paper (cards) and can build from there. Once I get the framing done, I can add color, texture (carpet, paint, shelves, whatever), but I will get nowhere if don't have the walls squared up, the floor level and the structure waterproofed against the storms of doubt that will roll in.